The Voices of Girls Who Code

posted by in Industry August 21, 2015
Aug 21

BSA | The Software Alliance sponsored the first-ever Washington, DC Girls Who Code summer immersion program. Here, several of the students share journal entries about their experiences.

BSA Office photo with Victoria Espinel

Destiny
“Throughout my time here at Girls Who Code we’ve learned a lot of skills that I can take into the future. I think my favorite skill, other than the coding, has to be learning about how to take advantage of the mentorship opportunities they presented to us. From encouraging everyone to ask important questions to making our very first LinkedIn accounts, Girls Who Code has taught us not only how to be good coders, but good leaders too.”

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Rachael
“Each person that came in to speak to us has been an absolute blessing to me and definitely inspired me to be a better version of myself. They made me realize that a woman can also be great and hold a major position. Throughout this summer I saw a diverse group of speakers which meant everything to me because that informs me that, I can be something great regardless of my color and where I’m from.”

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Lindsay
“At Girls Who Code, I believe the most surprising thing to me was the information I would gain related to computer programming, and the people I would meet. You learn more than coding; you learn life skills, how to network with people that you meet, and how to present yourself in a professional manner. Attending Girls Who Code may be one of the best ways to spend a summer, because you are learning things you will use forever.”

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Li
“I think I learned the most from Dr. Phyllis Schneck. While touring the NCICC/DHS I learned she and her team do a lot more than just look for malicious terrorists. They also monitor domestic problems such as electricity in a city or water supply. They use weather and information gathered from outer space to alert citizens of “normal” problems. I realize that her work impacts us daily and I don’t think everyone knows that. We take their work for granted and it should be known.”

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Sophie
“Because of Girls Who Code, I now have the skills to program almost anything I want. I have basic skills that I can use as a platform to learn new things on the internet. I believe that now I can program any website, app, or robot that I want. I don’t think I’m quite proficient enough to create convincing computer animation, but I can certainly learn more, and I’m eager to do so.”

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Alyssa
“My mom works for the government and when she talks about it, it seems very slow and boring (maybe that’s just her job, who knows!) so I thought I knew I didn’t want to work in the government. But every single one of the women talked about how much they loved working in it because they never knew exactly what was coming and there were always new and fun things to work on! I definitely think I want to get some job experience outside of the government first, just to see what I do and don’t like, but I think later on in my life I would like to work there.”

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India
“I now have an extremely strong base in programming and I feel like there’s a lot that I could do. I am, by no means, completely versed in everything I’ve learned so far or computer science in general but I now know how to go about solving programming problems and learning more. In short, Girls Who Code gave me a solid base that I can continue to build upon for the rest of my life.”

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3-D Software Helping Us Understand Our Past

posted by in Industry August 3, 2015
Aug 03

In my job, I see what software lets people accomplish every day. With software, people are transforming the present, and pushing the boundaries of current limitations further and further out.  People are using software to shape the future in many ways, from using software to save the lives of more premature babies and infants in places without electricity, to helping NASA study Mars.

But I am intrigued to see an example of software also being used to help us understand the past.

Recently, researchers in Virginia’s Jamestown, established in 1607, found four undiscovered burial sites of early settlers. This discovery gave us valuable new information about early colonists and life in what was the first permanent English settlement in the Americas.

While this announcement made headlines on newspapers and TV, those stories were only partially told, using two-dimensional images.  For the “inner archaeologist” in many of us, there was much more to experience on the Smithsonian Institution’s website – a three-dimensional rendering of the burial site, available for all to view and explore.

To achieve this, Autodesk and the Smithsonian partnered to build the Smithsonian X 3D Explorer – a tool built exclusively to digitally showcase the Smithsonian’s most prized exhibits. Through the ingenuity of Autodesk’s software and the vision of the people who created it, the researchers’ work can be more fully viewed and understood by us all.  People with an interest in early American history can experience an incredible 360-degree view of this amazing, new finding that gives even more clues into what life was like at Jamestown four centuries ago.

Our ability to use software to offer unprecedented digital access to historical findings is just one of the ways software is making learning and history reach far beyond the classroom. It’s inspiring to see researchers use software innovation to help us understand our past, as well as look toward our future. In the case of the groundbreaking 3-D Jamestown rendering, companies like Autodesk are helping future explorers develop a passion for learning and for seeing in different, entirely new ways – and providing us all with a way to better connect with our own history.

From uncovering the past to exploring the future, amazing things are happening every day with software.

Effective Information Sharing Legislation Needed to Combat Cyber Attacks

posted by in Cybersecurity July 22, 2015
Jul 22

It’s not hard today to find news accounts of how America’s digital networks are under siege.  Cyber criminals are at work, hoping to extract valuable data from consumers, businesses, and government organizations and to shut down or disrupt our critical infrastructure. One way to combat these attacks is allowing businesses and the government to share information about possible cyber threats in order to more effectively respond.  Unfortunately, current legal barriers discourage collaboration, putting more consumer data and our most critical infrastructure in harm’s way.

To spur action on this front, I sent a letter on behalf of BSA | The Software Alliance to Senate leadership, encouraging them to take up cyber threat information sharing legislation that will help both businesses and government combat cyber threats.

The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 (S.754), introduced by Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), has bipartisan support and deserves a robust debate before the full Senate. The Senate Intelligence Committee favorably reported the bill out of committee in April, and the House of Representatives has already taken necessary steps by overwhelmingly passing measures with similar goals: the Protecting Cyber Networks Act (HR 1560) and the National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act (HR 1731). The Senate has a valuable opportunity to take action on this key legislation now.

Enacting effective cyber threat information sharing legislation will allow public- and private-sector entities to voluntarily share valuable threat data, best practices, and vulnerabilities while protecting consumer privacy. BSA previously outlined six key tenets of effective information sharing legislation.  Increased situational awareness will enhance the ability of businesses, consumers, and operators of critical infrastructure to better defend themselves against attacks and intrusions.

Cybersecurity threats change on a daily basis, and BSA member companies are at the forefront of these battles. BSA urges the Senate to pass legislation that gives a helping hand to these companies and provides government necessary tools in the continuing fight against cyber crime.

Accepting Director Comey’s Call for a Public Debate on Encryption

posted by in Cybersecurity, Privacy July 8, 2015
Jul 08

FBI Director James Comey published a column on July 6, 2015, calling for a robust public debate about the benefits and costs of strong encryption that protects users’ privacy and overall network security. I join Director Comey in that call.

The law enforcement community has raised legitimate concerns about their ability to access information stored electronically.  Our member companies are fully committed to the important mission of law enforcement in keeping Americans safe and investigating criminal activity, and stand ready to do their part. But companies need both clarity about their obligations and the freedom to innovate to meet users’ demands. And we need to ensure that responsibilities imposed on technology companies do not endanger the security of our users’ information, or endanger network security more broadly.
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The State of Cybersecurity in APAC

posted by in Cybersecurity June 30, 2015
Jun 30

News of cyber attacks dominate today’s headlines. No country is safe from malicious cyber actors. In a world where cyber threats are constant, it is important to understand both how governments are addressing cybersecurity challenges and steps they can take to do better.

Today, BSA | The Software Alliance released its first Asia-Pacific (APAC) Cybersecurity Dashboard, an in-depth study of 10 APAC markets and their approaches to cybersecurity. Our goal is to inspire government leaders in each market to prioritize cybersecurity as an issue of national importance. This APAC Dashboard  is a companion to the European Union Cybersecurity Dashboard, released by BSA earlier this year.

The Dashboard’s findings are clear: the 10 markets examined in APAC have been slow to produce comprehensive national cybersecurity strategies and implement the legal frameworks needed for security and critical infrastructure protection. Yet there are tremendous opportunities to improve the systems needed to protect against, prevent, mitigate, and respond to cyber attacks.  Doing so will bolster enterprise, government, and consumer confidence in cutting edge Internet-enabled technologies and services, driving economic growth and productivity, and will reduce the costs and risks associated with growing cyber threats.
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You Can Do Amazing Things with Software

posted by in Industry June 1, 2015
Jun 01

Why does software matter?

As new technological advances propel us forward, it’s easy to take for granted the growing role software is playing for all of us.

Today’s software functions so consistently and seamlessly, we sometimes don’t even realize the many ways it’s improving our daily lives. Yet it is at the very heart of innovation all around us.

Fundamentally, software is revolutionizing the way we live our lives.

We want to spotlight the countless ways people use software to do amazing things and to help change our world for the better.
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Malware Threats from Unlicensed Software: The Critical First Step for Cyberrisk Management

posted by in Compliance and Enforcement April 23, 2015
Apr 23

Waking up to find your company on the front page news and at the center of a data breach is every CEO’s worst nightmare—and for a number of businesses, it has become reality. Today, the threats from cybercrime are real and frightening, and the risks are extraordinary. Cybersecurity is an incredibly complex issue and business leaders are grappling with how to best protect their businesses, understand the new business vulnerabilities, and identify what steps they can take to protect themselves and their customers from becoming a victim of cybercrime.

There is a strong case for organizations to put protection from malware at the top of their risk agenda. In the past year, 43% of companies experienced a data breach. The average organization experiences a malware event every three minutes, and the costs of dealing with that malware can be astronomical. The International Data Corporation (IDC) estimates that enterprises spent $491 billion in 2014 as a result of malware associated with counterfeit and unlicensed software.

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Time for Congress to Act on Cyber Threat Information Sharing

posted by in Cybersecurity April 21, 2015
Apr 21

Both public and private sector entities fall victim to cyber criminals and other malicious actors each day. Sharing information about cyber threats is critical to prevent and combat these attacks.

Over the past several years, Congress and the courts have taken steps to clarify and promote information sharing. Last year, the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission provided guidance clarifying that private entities can share cyber threat information without raising antitrust concerns — helping to pave the way for more timely cyber threat information sharing. That was a helpful step but there is more that can be done.
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Strengthening the Patent System by Ending Patent Abuse

posted by in Intellectual Property March 19, 2015
Mar 19

Patent reform is top of mind on Capitol Hill this month as several Committees hold hearings to discuss the need for patent reform. BSA was honored to testify today at the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. My testimony underscored the need for legislative action to curb abuses in the patent system.

The Small Business Committee is the ideal venue for an organization like BSA to present our views. Although our members range in size – from very small to large, each of them was founded by one or two individuals with passion, an idea, and a vision for making that idea a marketplace reality.
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Closing the Gaps in EU Cybersecurity: Let’s Get It Right

posted by in Cybersecurity March 5, 2015
Mar 05

Bolstering cybersecurity is a challenge facing boardrooms and government officials around the world. While technology is enabling us to be smarter about how we communicate, create, and solve problems, it has also introduced new risks which must be managed.

In Brussels next week, Member States will meet in Coreper as they continue to work toward consensus on a Network and Information Security (NIS) Directive aimed at harmonizing cybersecurity laws across Europe. That is no small feat when negotiating among 28 countries. A report released this week by BSA charts just how big a task they have before them. (more…)